Proofreading, Sentence structure, & Self Editing


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This workshop reviews different grammar errors and correct grammar rules. It teaches students how to proofread and self-edit their papers, so they can catch and fix common mistakes.

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Proofreading, Sentence structure, & Self Editing

  1. 1.  Avoid contractions in academic writing.  Avoid using a conjunction at the beginning of a sentence. ◦ Ex: And, but, or, yet, so, for, nor  Avoid slang, colloquialisms, and undefined jargon. ◦ Slang – the way you talk with your friends or family ◦ Colloquialisms – the language of a place/region ◦ Jargon – the language of a job/field
  2. 2.  Following the introductory clause ◦ Introductory clauses typically indicate time, order, or the state of things. ◦ Ex: After I ate dinner, …  When listing items in a series ◦ Ex: I have a cat, a dog, and a fish.
  3. 3.  To attach two independent clauses with a coordinating conjunction ◦ An independent clause is a sentence by itself ◦ Ex: The game was over, but the crowd refused to leave.  Setting aside the nonessential elements ◦ Phrases that add clarity but aren’t necessary ◦ Ex: Mrs. Jones, our English teacher, gave a test today.
  4. 4.  Sentence Fragments  Run-on Sentences  Misplaced Modifiers  Dangling Modifiers
  5. 5. Sentence Fragments
  6. 6.  Sentence Fragment – a partial sentence that is set off as if it were a whole sentence by a capital letters and ending punctuation. ◦ Fragments do not express full ideas.
  7. 7.  A sentence fragment lacks a subject or a verb. ◦ Lacks a main verb:  Toys of all kinds thrown everywhere. ◦ Lacks a main subject:  With the ultimate effect of advertising is to get you to spend money.  A complete sentence contains both a subject and a verb. ◦ Ex: The wind blows.
  8. 8.  To correct sentence fragments, make sure your sentence has a subject and a verb. ◦ Fragment:  Working on an overdue paper. ◦ Correction:  Zach stayed up late working on an overdue paper.
  9. 9.  To correct sentence fragments, make sure your sentence has a subject and a verb. ◦ Fragment:  Working on an overdue paper. ◦ Correction:  Zach stayed up late working on an overdue paper.
  10. 10.  To find sentence fragments: ◦ Read your paper aloud.  An awkward sentence will stand out better if you hear it instead of merely seeing it. ◦ Read every sentence backwards starting at the end of your paper.  This will stop your brain from automatically “gluing” sentences together.
  11. 11. Run-on Sentences
  12. 12.  Run-on sentence – a sentence that contains at least two ideas that can stand alone or a sentence that does not contain proper punctuation. ◦ The length of the sentence doesn’t define a run-on; the amount of information in a single sentence does. ◦ Ex: The dog is whining she is hungry  No proper punctuation between independent clauses.
  13. 13.  Comma splice – a kind of run-on sentence in which independent clauses are connected only by a comma. ◦ Ex: The cookies taste terrible, I forgot to add sugar.
  14. 14.  Read the sentences aloud. If you run out of breath, you may want to separate some clauses.  Use a coordinating conjunction (FANBOYS). ◦ The is whining, for she is hungry.  Use a semicolon. ◦ The dog is whining; she is hungry.
  15. 15. Misplaced Modifiers
  16. 16.  Misplaced Modifier – a phrase or clause placed in such a way in the sentence that it is unclear what part of the sentence is being modified ◦ Only he liked Sarah. ◦ He only liked Sarah. ◦ He liked only Sarah.
  17. 17.  Try placing the modifiers near the words they modify.  In most cases, adjective phrases and clauses should come immediately after the words they modify. ◦ Error: The car was stopped alongside the road with one headlight. ◦ Correction: The car with one headlight was stopped alongside the road.
  18. 18.  Adverb phrases and clauses that modify verbs may be placed before or after the verb it modifies. ◦ Ex: When you leave, please close the door. ◦ Ex: Please close the door when you leave.
  19. 19.  Place adverb modifiers as close as possible to the words they modify. ◦ Error: John told how his friend had fallen from the podium. ◦ Correction: From the podium, John told how his friend had fallen.
  20. 20. Dangling Modifiers
  21. 21.  Dangling Modifier – a phrase or clause that does not modify any other words in the sentence ◦ Flying over the city, the skyscraper could clearly be seen.  What or who could be clearly seen here?
  22. 22.  Move the dangling phrase after the word it modifies. ◦ Error: Hanging on a nail in his closet, he found his tie. ◦ Correction: He found his tie hanging on a nail in the closet.
  23. 23.  Reword the independent clause, often by adding a missing word. ◦ Error: When one month old, my grandmother died. ◦ When I was one month old, my grandmother died.
  24. 24. Self-Editing
  25. 25.  Read your paper aloud, slowly. ◦ You’ll hear mistakes you wouldn’t noticed by reading silenly. ◦ Make corrections, then reread it aloud again later to see if you need to make more corrections  Make a list of everything you need in your paper. ◦ Use it to check your paper to make sure you’ve included everything.
  26. 26.  Read for clarity. ◦ Your reader doesn’t know what you meant to write, only what you’ve written. ◦ Make sure you’ve written everything your audience needs to understand what you’re trying to convey.  Read paragraph by paragraph and sentence by sentence. ◦ Ask yourself, “Could I say this with fewer words?” ◦ If yes, then do so.
  27. 27.  Your computer can’t think for you. ◦ Spell checks, homonyms, and grammar check  Use resources as a guide, not as an answer. ◦ Online dictionaries and thesauruses ◦ Wikipedia is questionable at best  Be wary of any service that wants to do your thinking for you. ◦ Citation guides vs. automatic citation machines
  28. 28.  ◦ APA and MLA citation guides ◦ Tips on academic and business writing ◦ Grammar, mechanics, and punctuation   